Trump is Already Months Late on His Promise to Steelworkers. Now He’s Facing a Final Deadline.

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch

Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch Digital Media Director, Alliance for American Manufacturing

It’s the final countdown.

For months, we’ve been lamenting the Trump administration’s lack of progress on its national security investigations into steel and aluminum imports. After all, both President Trump and administration officials had pledged to unveil the findings of the “Section 232” investigations by July 1.

Neither have been released. But because Trump had pledged to do something by a specific date, foreign importers rushed product into the market to get ahead of any presidential action. That made the overall crisis worse; steel imports alone were up nearly 18 percent in 2017.

Now The Donald and his crew are coming up against a deadline they cannot ignore. By law, the Commerce Department has 270 days to present the findings of the Section 232 investigations to the president – meaning the deadline is Jan. 15 for the steel imports investigation; the aluminum report is due a week later.

From there, Trump will have 90 days to decide whether to do anything to address whatever is in the reports, which could include restricting imports through tariffs or other means.

It remains very unclear what Trump intends to do. While there is talk that 2018 will be the year that the president gets tough on trade, it remains all talk – and as the 232 delays show, we’ve heard plenty of talk from this president before.

But what is clear is that it is essential for the United States to maintain a strong industrial base, especially when it comes to vital commodities like steel and aluminum.

Both industries provide middle class jobs across the country – 140,000 people are directly employed by the steel industry, 161,000 by the aluminum industry  – and the two industries together indirectly support nearly 2 million jobs.

Both are also essential to our national security and critical infrastructure. We need steel to build everything from aircraft carriers and tanks to bridges and the electric grid; aluminum is needed for fighter jets like the F-15 (and there’s only one smelter left that can make the high purity aluminum needed to build it).

Time is running out. Trump has pushed these investigations to the limit, and it is time for him to take strong, decisive action to safeguard American workers and our national security.

***

Reposted from AAM

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Alliance for American Manufacturing

Union Matters

Uber Drivers Deserve Legal Rights and Protections

By Kathleen Mackey
USW Intern

In an advisory memo released May 14, the U.S. labor board general counsel’s office stated that Uber drivers are not employees for the purposes of federal labor laws.

Their stance holds that workers for companies like Uber are not included in federal protections for workplace organizing activities, which means the labor board is effectively denying Uber drivers the benefits of forming or joining unions.

Simply stating that Uber drivers are just gig workers does not suddenly undo the unjust working conditions that all workers potentially face, such as wage theft, dangerous working conditions and  job insecurity. These challenges are ever-present, only now Uber drivers are facing them without the protection or resources they deserve. 

The labor board’s May statement even seems to contradict an Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling that couriers for Postmates, a job very similar to Uber drivers’, are legal employees.

However, the Department of Labor has now stated that such gig workers are simply independent contractors, meaning that they are not entitled to minimum wages or overtime pay.

While being unable to unionize limits these workers’ ability to fight for improved pay and working conditions, independent contractors can still make strides forward by organizing, explained executive director of New York Taxi Workers Alliance Bhairavi Desai.

“We can’t depend solely on the law or the courts to stop worker exploitation. We can only rely on the steadfast militancy of workers who are rising up everywhere,” Desai said in a statement. 

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